Tag Archives: mindfulness

Competitive Mindfulness

Mindful v MindfulnessCompetitive mindfulness may sound like a complete oxymoron. I have recently observed this during my dissertation research on Wearables and Presence in the Workplace.  I thought it might be worth sharing to see where the conversation goes.

The concept of competitive mindfulness was rather humorous to me at first.  Interaxon’s Muse, one of the devices in my study, is an EEG monitoring headband accompanied by a smartphone game that teaches the user to improve their focus. When the user is focused, they get birds. As their attention sways, the wind picks up.  My kids and their friends hijacked two of the units to see who could get more birds.  Initially they strategically disappeared into the other room to ensure minimal distraction for best results.  It did not take long before they could sit amongst the chaos of kids to accomplish their focus. In fact they seemed to be listening more, both to themselves and others. Not to me, of course. That would take more than two weeks, and the devices needed to be delivered for my study. Is competition so wrong, if that is what it takes to interest them in improving their focus?

Several weeks ago, I attended Wisdom 2.0.  It was an interesting mix of mindfulness from meditation and yoga to conscious business and self-awareness.  The participants ranged from practitioners to wellness providers, leadership development professionals, organization psychologists and coaches.  I tried to soak it all in and capture the pieces that are relevant to my dissertation (trying to focus myself to get it done, rather than get distracted by the many tangents I could have taken).

Morsels of conversations debating mindfulness as meditation, what meditation means and its purpose.  I was surprised, well not too, at condescending comments towards non-daily meditators.  “When you do it, you will understand mindfulness.”  Doesn’t sound like a very compassionate and non-judgmental thing to say. It is my own belief that method for achieving mindfulness comes from within each person.  One could be laying in the bath, hiking a ridge or sitting in lotus pose with their eyes closed.  I believe it is not the method, but the goal of listening to one’s self and experiencing the world, in the moment, without judgement.

There are other smartphone apps and wearables that have mindfulness components to them.  Some of them have sharing elements that one can choose to make competitive.  One app is based on Mindfulness expert Jack Kornfield and Adam Gazzaley  research in contemplative neuroscience.  Simply by their using the term “neurocrossfit” has an element of competition insinuated.  Deepak Chopra says, “”I think this is the best way to reach a lot of people,” of his app and use of Dreamweaver for meditation.

lagomDon’t get me wrong, I think competitive mindfulness is great, in moderation.  If a competitive component is what is needed to develop greater compassion, self-awareness, and less judgement, is that a problem.  Of course, full disclosure, I thrive on a little bit of competition.  Not too much, but just enough or ”lagom.”  If there is one thing I learned in my life in Sweden, it is the beauty of “lagom,” which I think applies well here.

I can just hear my kids now, “I fell asleep faster than you.” “Yeah, I got a higher compassion score than you.” (Or, is this just me dreaming?)  I look forward to seeing how they will respond to  Spire. Who can be more balanced between focus, fitness and calm.  If this is what they are competitive about, I am not too worried. If they master yoga poses and breathing with intent to nail a pose better than anyone else, this at least gets them on the mat.  The other pieces may follow.  In fact, I think there is a great deal of hope in competitive mindfulness.  Especially when to goal is to achieve personal best, competitive with oneself.

Is competitive mindfulness, the future?  For those who think meditation will make them better people but still judge others who don’t meditate, you have work to do.  Competition does not equal judgment.  Maybe a walk in the woods or a long bath would do you good.  I feel for you and am right there with you.  We all have work to do to strive for our personal best that mutually serves us and the greater system.  Only then, can we thrive together.  Lagom competition for a balance of empathy, compassion, humility and reality is a better goal for competitive mindfulness.  How many birds can you get, or compassionate deeds can you do in one day?

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Reflections from Wisdom 2.0

Be wise, be sillyOne of the most beautiful things about Wisdom and Mindfulness is what it brings out in people.  It has been a long time since I laughed so hard my belly hurt and smiled so much my cheeks ached.  This, all in the midst of profound learnings quiet inspiration and deep thought.  Did I get what I expected out of Wisdom 2.0? Why, yes indeed and more. Despite not being in (my usual) network and share mode, I met some amazing people with brilliant minds and fascinating stories.

To be clear, this was about research for me.  My intentions were, at least, that.  I’m in the depths of writing my doctoral dissertation on Wearable Technologies and Presence in the Workplace.  I was drawn to the speaker list (half of who’s books are included in my literature review).  I attended with my student hat on, intending to understand how wisdom and mindfulness are being adopted into organizations.  All my (book) research was pointing to corporate wellness programs.  What I was excited to see what that it, the Mindfulness Movement, was driven from a much more grass roots level.  Of course, for it to be accepted and supported (in other words given a budget) it had to show value for money.  The ROI through some form of metrics (performance, decreased absenteeism and presenteeism, engagement…).

The advocates and ambassadors of Mindfulness are breaking into the domain of leadership.  Listening to Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO, we all secretly wished that we were working for such an enlightened and authentic leader.  As he lead the chorus “Sitting by the dock of the bay,…” we imagined ourselves part of his camp.  Ming Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow and founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI)gave us pause to the potential for extending these practices to other organizations with joy.  It is easy to get excited by the potential of conscious leadership and business practices when lead by such compassionate and wise leaders.  It is neither simply fluff nor driven by health related issues.  These guys mean business, with heart.

Some take-aways that I especially appreciated

  • Christine Carter (Happiness Expert) “Don’t lean in if it means leaning out from your sweet spot.”
  • Tristan Harris (Google, Product Manager) “Consumer demand can drive design change with the metric: time WELL spent.”
  • Adam Gazzaley (Neuroscientist) Innovation using video game mechanics can provide neurocrossfit for our plastic brains
  • Sherry Turkle (author) “The unedited life is most fulfilling”
  • Fred Kofman (author) “What is good for you doesn’t always taste good.”
  • Meng Tan (SIYLI) “Business at its best reduces suffering.”
  • Julia Hartz (Eventbrite Co-Founder) “say YES”

Next time I attend Wisdom 2.0, I will have finished my research and dissertation.  I hope to have something that will be worthy of sharing there.  But even more so, I look forward to taking the opportunity to be more present and enjoy the more extensive offerings in lectures, workshops and yoga that I missed this round.  Today I return to writing and research mode with a new

Note: Some of you may have seen me there and felt a twinge of frustration as my head was focused down on my iPad, rather than at the stage from which wisdom bestowed.  I was listening, far more deeply than you realize.  For me this my way of mindfully and creatively capturing the experience and learnings.  My Wisdom 2.0 sketchnotes album is below, and feel free to enjoy, share and download them if you like.

Link to flickr album for Sketchnotes from Wisdom 2.0

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Social Through Wearables


Slide deck from keynote on Social Through Wearables. Social optimization requires an understanding of self and others to provide the MUTUAL benefit to relationship building. This study explores wearable technologies as an intervention for bringing greater awareness and presence into social engagement. Slide deck from keynote on Social Through Wearables based on research in Wearables and presence of mind in the workplace.

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Why Fascination with Wearables and Presence?

As I sat through the sessions at SxSW on Wearable technologies in March, something clicked.  As a lover of gadgets, I am always eager to try new things if they have a purpose that I can relate to. My passion for social strategy and getting people to engage with each other on a deeper level for mutual benefit had a connection here and it was finally becoming clear.  Something about motivating each other by sharing data, about getting out and getting fit, about being more present in the moment with others was standing out.  I was and am determine to dig deeper.  Call me crazy, but I even changed my doctoral dissertation to focus on finding more answers.

Lola, the UP dogMy first really effective wearable was my Jawbone UP band.  When living in Sweden, my Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) became acute. Some ways to combat S.A.D., like many forms of depression, is movement, fresh air and social interaction.  I used the idle vibration alert to get me through the Winter months.  I trained my service dog to respond to the alert.  So that, even if the vibration wasn’t sufficient enough to modify my behavior, her tugging at my sleeve to urge a walkabout resulted in action.  Once out and about, I became progressively more engaged and present with my work, my research and my interactions with my family and friends.  It was the action that created the presence, but I believe the action would not have occurred without the stimulation of the wearable (and a little tug from Lola).

What about other discreet wearables?  I am most curious about wearables that passively monitor and alert us to behaviors that are detrimental to our being present, mindful in the moment.  So, my journey begins here (well, sort of, the sharing begins here).  I look forward to sharing more with you as it continues.  I will continue to share, and I hope you will too.  Feel free to contact me directly if you have stories, wearables, research that you think would be relevant.  I look forward to hearing about them and from you.

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